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In 1914, Darwan Singh Negi from Karbartir village in Uttar Pradesh fought in the First World War in France. He was a Naik in the 1st Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles, Indian Army Corps of the British Expeditionary Force.

On the night of 23 November that year, the then 31-year-old Negi came under heavy rifle fire. Despite being wounded twice in the head and once in the arm, he was one of the first to help his regiment clear German forces out from British trenches.

Negi is one of the six Indian soldiers among 175 Victoria Cross recipients (from 11 commonwealth countries) whose stories, along with a photo, have been collected for a digital archive by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK Government, as part of its First World War Centenary program. The archival project was launched on 20 June.

“It is fitting that we pay tribute to the Victoria Cross recipients from overseas…," said Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Hugo Swire. Presented only to British and Commonwealth forces, the Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry in the face of enemy. With this archive, the UK government hopes to send “a message that these men, and the important role played by their home countries in the First World War, will never be forgotten by the people of the United Kingdom," Swire said.

In 2014, the UK government presented bronze memorial plaques to the home countries of these 175 Victoria Cross recipients. The digital archive is a way for them to bring these plaques to life, and to reach “the younger generations," the FCO said. In keeping with this, the archive had its launch on social media.

Over the next six months, the archive will highlight in further detail, each soldier’s individual story, said Tara Finn of the First World War Centenary Commemorations Team.

Naik Darwan Singh Negi, retired as a Subedar from the Army and died in 1950 in India. He is one of the earliest Indian recipients of the Victoria Cross. The museum opposite the Garhwal Rifles War Memorial in the cantonment town of Lansdowne in Uttarakhand is named after him.

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